Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 30 December-5 January 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
30 December-5 January 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2020. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 30 December-5 January 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that during 29 December-5 January explosions at Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated ash plumes that rose 800-900 m above the complex. Plumes sometimes drifted about 1 km SW. The extrusion of blocky lava at Caliente dome generated block-and-ash flows that descended the NW, W, SW, and E flanks, often reaching the base of the complex. Ashfall on the flanks was noted almost daily, though during 1-2 January ashfall was also reported in Loma Linda (6 km WSW) and San Marcos Palajunoj (8 km SW).
Geological Summary. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank, and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.